Fry's Electronics

Fry’s Electronics is a chain of megastores famous around the San Jose area for catering to the nerdly among us. They carry everything from big-screen TVs to solder. They are also famous for recruiting most of their workers as soon as they get their green cards, if not sooner. The result is salespeople who are so busy struggling with the English language and the challenges of a new culture that they have little time to worry about details like customer service.

Just about everyone in San Jose has a Fry’s horror story, and now I have mine. I bought a digital camcorder today which saves still photos to a memory card. I also had to buy a card reader so I can transfer photos from the memory card to my PC. So, I take a few pictures with my new toy, open up the card reader box to hook it up to my PC, and I see the instructions, the cable, the little tiny CD-ROM with the software…but no card reader. Now, it’s a small component (as the box says, it’s about the size of a keychain ornament), so I’m thinking maybe it’s hidden in a compartment in the box. Nope…no card reader, not anywhere. I did find a little polyurethane envelope which looked just about the right size to hold a memory card reader, but it was empty.

A piece of vital background information: the box had a sticker on it stating that it had been bought and returned, but was warranted as new. Evidently some bloody bastard bought the thing, took the card reader out of it, and returned the cable and software for a full refund, calculating correctly that whichever Fry’s drone was assigned to check the contents of the box before issuing the refund would be musing about the chain of events which led him from Kashmiri herdsman to Fry’s salesman in just two short weeks, instead of paying attention to what he was doing.

I have to say I’ve bought some crappy products in my life, but this is the first time I’ve bought an empty box (not counting when I go to the box store before a move). I can’t imagine how a product could be less satisfactory unless it actually caused you harm, like burning your fingers or shorting out the computer when plugged in. Tomorrow I’ll go to Fry’s to get a refund, and if anyone raises the possibility that I stole the card reader and accuses me of trying to get a refund on an empty box, I swear I’ll castrate him with a potato peeler.

FTR, don’t ever buy RAM from Fry’s. Unless a) it’s really close and b) you don’t mind visiting it repeatedly.

I dunno, KK, we’ve bought ALL our RAM at Fry’s, and never had any problems.

The clincher, however, is that you never buy the cheapest (generic brand-name) available RAM… always buy the next level up.

Fry’s is a great place, as you say, for the nerds. Yeah, you occasionally get a horror story (I’ve yet to, despite the craploads of shopping I do there), but overall, I think it’s a great store… even if all you want to do is walk around and look at stuff. Hell, I love fantasizing about the “perfect computer” I could build and checking to see how much it’d cost me.

I guess we’re lucky… our local Fry’s is relatively well-staffed with generally competent employees.

My mother worked at a Frys in the LA area for a couple of years. The policies and corporate crap in that chain is simply stunning. The company is run on the basic idea that employees WILL try to rip the company off, and it’s demoralizing when your employer treats you with such obvious, contemptuous distrust. From what I have been told, the Frys brothers’ main retail experience was in their parents’ store, so they implement a lot of business practices they learned there – practices which might work well in a small store but fail miserably when you try to make them work on a million-dollar retail level. They’ve lost several lawsuits and there are more pending.

My family still shops there, but we have all learned the fun way … never buy what’s on sale, especially if it’s in the ad. Ever. No matter how broke you are, buy the next step up. A friend of mine bought a CD-ROM which she discovered, after trying for weeks to get it to work, was made for the European market and not compatible with American Windows. My parents have gone through the returns process many many times, and “what’s on sale at Frys” has become a synonym for suckage. (“Did you see that TV movie last night? Damn, that was on sale at Fry’s!”)

Oh, and (though this advice is a bit belated) never EVER buy an opened box. Find one that hasn’t been opened, or get something else. It ain’t worth it.

You might also check out where shoppers and employees regularly share their experiences with the pinnacle of customer service that is Frys Electronics.

FYI, I have heard similar stories of people purchasing empty boxes from Fry’s on more than one occasion.

The Fry’s in Phoenix requires one to have their goods checked against the receipt on the way out the door. Is this a common practice in Fry’s elsewhere? If I had nicked something inside the store, I wouldn’t move it to my shopping bag with the legit stuff. And I’m not sure what I could pick up for free on the way out. Makes me feel like they don’t trust me…

Yeah, they do that in the Bay Area too. Fry’s is a place people love to hate. The general cluelessness of the help, for whom English is not quite yet a second language is legendary. Their propensity for reboxing returned merchandise and restoring it to the shelves is also. However, they have an enormous selection, generally good prices, and the flip side of that returned merchandise thing is that they essentially will let you return anything you have the receipt for. Just know what you want, because even the simplest questions to the staff will generally be treated as if you had asked them to explain the grand unified theory, neurosurgery or trading derivatives[sup]1[/sup]. Also, look very closely for the repackaging sticker on anything you buy, and don’t buy a reboxed item.

[sup]1[/sup] - Actually, I DID get a helpful answer out of a Fry’s staff member once, but even then, he had to go ask his boss.

I have to be fair and let you know what happened when I tried to return the empty box - they took it back with no questions asked. More impressive than that, they took back the camcorder for a cash refund (not store credit), even though I had lost the receipt sometime during the card reader return transaction. (Aside: If you plan to use a sub-$1500 digital camcorder to take still photos, forget it. The resolution is so bad it looks like you’re shooting through a screen door. Never mind the number of pixels - it’s just bad. Gonna take another two years at least before the technology is ready.) I’ve returned things to Fry’s before and never had any trouble. And one thing I’ll say about the staff: they may be dim, but they are very polite.

If you don’t count the headache of returning the empty box, I actually came out ahead - I bought some Reese’s Cups for $0.79 at the same time as the second card reader, and when all the returning and refunding was done, I had gotten refunds on the camcorder and card reader plus $0.79 cash back, even though by that time the Reese’s Cups were somewhere in my small intestine. Sometimes incompetence works in your favor. :slight_smile:

By the way, the little station at the exit where you are supposed to let them look through your bags (called “The Final Humiliation” by those in the know) can be easily circumvented by simply not stopping as you go out the door. I never do, unless I’m pushing a shopping cart, and nobody’s ever said anything. The checker is just a regular employee, not a security guard, and they’re much too timid to try to stop you.

No Fry’s thread would be complete without a link to the epic Breakfast at Fry’s.


From douglips’ link:

In CA this is proabably true. I was in Sierra Vista, AZ, and surprised to note that “Fry’s Supermarket” still existed. Fortunately you don’t have to worry about reboxed cereal, there were not lines of 100 people waiting at the checkout line, and you didn’t have to try to get questions answered about the oranges. It was, in short, a supermarket. According to, they have 100 supermarkets in the AZ region, though they are now actually owned by Kroger’s.

Well, I never bought RAM from them, but I had a FOAF who went through 3 bad modules before coming up w/ one that works. Of course he probably was going for the cheap stuff.

Actually, aside from their staff all being insufferable assholes that can’t keep track of inventory, I’ve never had a really bad experience with Fry’s. Then again, there were quite a few times where their staff were insufferable assholes with inventory tracking problems, so I guess it evens out…

In the TV series Futurama, cartoonist Matt Groening {say “Grain-ing”} has created a character named “Fry”. He is a clueless nitwit that is helpless with technology.

Matt Groening lives in California.

Draw your own conclusions, Ladies & Gentlemen.

Feel free to post & agree with me {or not agree}, as a pat on the back is always welcome.
If a kick in the butt is deserved, BITE MY SHINEY METAL ASS!
[sub]This is the BBQ Pit, after all.[/sub]

I have bought a crapload of the cheap memory, never had to return one yet. My theory is that they get them all out of the same box.
NEVER buy a box with one of those little labels on it saying:

If they are out of un-opened boxes, I just don’t buy them.

Sale items are ok, if they are a brand you recognize

I send people to our local frys to by stuff for me to build them a computer. I give them model numbers and brands, and forbid them from talking to the sales drones. I make them promise to call me before any substitutions.

I walk past the drones at the exit, if possible, only let them check my stuff if its convenient. I had a friend who went right out the door with a dvd player, a hard drive, and a case that the clerk forgot to ring up. They checked his reciept, inventoried his cart, and still didnt notice the $500 or so worth of non-paid for stuff.

Er, Fry’s electronics?

What do you expect ;)?

Some thoughts re Frys:

  • Check this out for yourself: go to the Fry’s in Palo Alto off of Portage Ave. Look at the check-out clerks. Look at all 40+ of them. Find one that isn’t Indian.

  • I wholeheartedly agree: DO NOT BUY MEMORY FROM FRY’S.

  • Avoid items with “The Sticker” on them. Those were returned items. Why take a chance?

All this being said, Fry’s is a great place to find cheap stuff when those items are on sale. Otherwise, you’ll save a lot more money buy purchasing through online computer parts suppliers.

Also, Fry’s is very liberal with their return policies, so don’t worry about being hassled when you want to return something. Want proof? Look at how many items on the shelves have “The Sticker.”

I have found Fry’s to be a great place to buy stuff–I keep an eye out and buy it when it goes on sale there. I’ve also found the sales staff to be very helpful.

This is at the aforementioned Palo Alto location. Your mileage may vary.

I haven’t yet had any problems with my RAM, and I’ve only bought cheap stuff.

However, I never, EVER trust the BYO System deals. Every time I’ve had to deal with those, there has been a problem. I also don’t trust the small name brands they sell.

I like Fry’s. It’s a convenient place to go to get components for my computer. I ignore the sales drones, so I don’t have to deal with assholes. I pick what I want, buy it, and leave.

(I’ve had more trouble with CompUSA stuff than I have with Fry’s. Also, Fry’s has some of the best deals around LA.)

There were rumors, a year or so ago, that Fry’s was planning on charging restocking fees. Damn place would go bankrupt in a New York minute… :smiley:

I was surprised when I learned, a few years back, that Fry’s was something other than a grocery store. Fry’s grocery stores are still alive and well in Tucson, AZ where I spent the first 25 years of my life.

About the checking the reciept/cart thing at the door… this is hardly a Fry’s only thing… CompUSA does it here and so does Wal-Mart.

I only shop at Fry’s if it’s a matter of life and death, which is about once a year. I hate the place. I down right loathe the place.

You go in to buy a stick of RAM, and the minimum wage guy is asking where you live, the kind of car you drive, your favorite food, and the color of your underwear. Then, you work your way to the E ticket checkout line, which you’re hoarded through like cattle.

You finally purchase your RAM, only to find you have to stand in another line. You’re already angry as fuck because you’ve just spent 3 hours purchasing a $30 DIMM, and now some 6-buck-an-hour foreigner is going to impose his delusions of authority on you to check your bag.

Well, it ain’t gonna happen. I haven’t stopped in that line yet, and I don’t plan to.